Janmashtami Festival Celebrations in India’s Small Cities

When we were kids Janmashtami festival celebrations was an event of hyper excitement and enthusiasm. Jhanki decoration ideas, planning, material collection and execution began days in ahead. Door to door fund collection and daily practice for the cultural program was our top priority. Ah! Gone are the days of such elementariness and excitement.

Well, this year I was invited to a Janmashtami festival celebrations organized by Uttarkashi Police and it brought back such nostalgic. The simplicity, youth involvement and reverence in Janamashtmi festival celebration as seen here can only be found in a small city.

Ingenious Jhanki Decoration

Jhanki depicting Shri Krishna's birth

Jhanki depicting Shri Krishna’s birth

Simple decoration items were used to adorn the temple area. The stuff used was not expensive but surely required lot of time, effort and manpower to execute. I was reminded of how I would think of out of the box ideas every year to decorate the temple with flowers, rangoli, diwali lights and paper decorations. Jhanki was staged in our verandah and random strangers visited and appreciated our creativity and use of science. My personal favourite were those small boats moving around in water and the Kansh karagar (Jail in which kansh had imprisoned Krishna’s parents).

Do you remember this?

Do you remember this?

The Procession

Girls and boys styled as Radha, Krishan and Gopi were made to sit atop a tempo with loud bhakti songs playing and paraded around the city. The kids were totally in the character, playing flute and giving blessings.

Kids dressed as Rdha, Krishna and Gopi all set in their new avatar

Kids dressed as Rdha, Krishna and Gopi all set in their new avatar

Live depiction of Krishna's parent in jail at the time of his birth

Live depiction of Krishna’s parent in jail at the time of his birth

When I was in Bikaner I saw a Ramleela procession with over excited Hanuman and a man dressed as Sita. Quite amusing! Read about that blog here: Ramleela and Dussehra as Celebrated by 70% Indians

Cultural Program and Orchestra

School kids practice and prepare atleast a month in advance to perform on the stage. The program popularly known as Orchestra invariably begins with a performance on a religious song, thereafter followed by tadak-bhadak Bollywood dance numbers. The interesting part of every orchestra would be the host – a super excited person who feels free to say anything and everything on mike, recite lame sahyari and stupid jokes but is always cheered the loudest.

 “Arre bhai taaliyan ki aawaz sunai nahi di, bhook lag gayi kya? Jaara ek baar aur joordar taaliyon se swagat kariye hamare agle nanhe kalakar ka” (basically persuading audience to clap louder)

And who won’t remember? “Hello, Hello, mike testing, 1, 2, 3…1,2,3”

Or

“Ek chota sa chutkula jab tak backstage hamare artist ready ho rahe hai” (said in aheavy modulated voice).

Excited Parents All Around

Excited parents (that also includes me) dressed their kids as Krishna and flaunted them everywhere. Though the kids looked divine but I sometimes think what must be going on inside their mind, “Kya joker bana diya. Itni garmi bhi lag rhai hai iss dress mei. Arre mummy,  aap ka ho gaya ho toh mujhe please shorts and ganji mei change kar do”.

My little Krishna

My little Krishna

I enjoyed my Janmashtami in a simple desi style.

How was your Janamashtami festival celebration? Keen to hear from you.

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9 Responses to Janmashtami Festival Celebrations in India’s Small Cities

  1. Perviz Surti says:

    Janmashtami has a unique tradition and flavour in Mumbai. This festival is locally more popular as Dahi Handi. Thanks for posting these! I’ve been scrolling through your articles and loving them, there are many things I didn’t know before.

    • gitanjali says:

      Thank you so much Perviz for the kind words. Yes, I have heard a lot about the festival of Dahi Handi and especially the gymnastic of climbing up. I plan to see it sometime soon.

  2. Swati says:

    Well written blog nd chotu kanhaiya is cute …….

  3. Such a cute baby! I am sure time will fly and you would be traveling with your kid to your heart’s content.

  4. indrani says:

    Cute little Krishna you have! 🙂
    I love these traditions of our country.
    Well blogged on this. 🙂

  5. You reminded me of my Childhood days, yes simplicity at its best. In today’s time if one can even visit a Temple thats a big thing but am sure our cultural roots will keep us intact Jai KanahiayaLal ki Bolo Radhe Radhe 🙂

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